Sunday, November 13, 2011
64 El Camino: Redneck For a Day
Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, a friend of mine recently had his license suspended for 90 days. He runs a small business and a vehicle is an absolute necessity. One of the company vehicles just happens to be a '64 El Camino. He needed someone to drive him around, and that's where I come in.
This is no ordinary El Camino however. It looks fairly stock but it 's a sleeper. The original 327 was replaced with a 350 that had a lot of work done to it, including performance cams, Edelbrock manifold, headers, Accel ignition, big ass carburetor and somebody did something funny to the cam. As quintessentially redneck as these upgrades sound, this car actually hauls some serious ass. Did I mention that the car came from North Carolina? No self respecting redneck drives a car that is stock.
A lot of people seem to lump greasers and rednecks into the same derogatory label. I am not a redneck per se, but I got to act like one and I was diggin' it. This is the ultimate redneck car; not sure if it's a truck or car, this strange hybrid especially appeals to rednecks. You can haul chicken feed in the back and it feels all classy like in the front. This is precisely the same thing that a mullet accomplishes. "All yee-haw in the back and jes regler stuff in thuh front". This is the mullet of the car world.
So here I was, enlisted to drive a mullet car for the next few weeks. A mullet car that does 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds. The prospect had potential for some good ole boy type of fun.
I made my way down to my buddy's shop to go for little test drive to familiarize myself with the car. Our first mission was a relatively easy one; a beer run. I got into the driver's seat, turned the ignition that doesn't require a key and the engine roared to life. As I gently revved the engine a satisfying deep rumble emanated from the dual exhaust. My buddy is shorter than me, so I was right up against the steering wheel. The seat adjustment was broken (of course it was) so I would be stuck driving right up against the massive steering wheel, like a senior citizen in Florida driving a big Cadillac.
I pulled out of the alley and headed for the bridge. Once on the bridge my friend encouraged me to open her up. I stomped on the gas pedal and all four barrels opened up. I could feel my neck getting slightly red. Once we bought some beer and headed back to the shop, a suit-wearing douchebag in a BMW sidled up to my right at a red light was arrogantly going to attempt to pass me on the right. I knew was he was planning and when the light turned green I punched it. The car laid some rubber and sprang forth like a cheetah, easily leaving the large BMW in my dust. I was gone too fast to see the expression on the other guy's face, but I did let out a loud "yeee-haw". It just came out. My friend was busy clutching the seat and telling me to slow down. He jokingly said that my behavior was anti-social. I agreed as I revved the engine and lunged at some jaywalkers (the horn is also busted).
Our next mission was to do a small repair job at a ski resort that was two hours away. We stopped at McDonald's to stock up on some burgers. I haven't set foot in a McDonald's in years, but I somehow developed a craving for a whole bunch of those tiny cheeseburgers that they have. As I hit the highway steering in one hand and cheesburger in other, I noticed that people in passing cars were giving us strange looks.
The highway that we were on hugs mountains overlooking a very large body of water. It is precarious with it's many twists and turns, and has one lane in each direction for most of the way. I was holding up traffic because the speedometer was broken ( of course it was). I noticed a long line of traffic behind me that was unable to pass me because of the double yellow line. I punched it again and was amazed that this old Chevy was actually accelerating going up a steep grade. I left the line up of Range Rovers and BMW's in my dust once again as I let out yet another involuntary yeee-haw. You gotta love low end torque. The good ole boy in North Carolina knew what he was doing when he built this car. It must be atavistic knowledge that was acquired from generations of outrunning revenooers.
There weren't any revenooers where we were going. it was much worse. Squares and lots of them, the real uppity kind with lots of money. We were heading to Whislter BC, you see, an awful, soulless place where people look at my greasy kind with contempt. This was gonna be fun.
We arrived at our destination and caused many heads to turn as we cruised up the main drag. I just stepped on the gas a little which caused mufflers to rumble and the front end to lurch up and I knew we wasn't gonna be welcome. We checked into the hotel and then made our way to the liquor store. As I my buddy went inside to purchase copious quantities of booze , I decided to practice a few burnouts in the parking lot, much to the consternation of the locals. As my buddy returned to the car with large bags of alky-hol I did one more little burnout, leaving a cloud of acrid rubber smoke in my wake. Yee-haw.
We didn't do any work whatsoever that day, unless you want to count drinking all that booze as work. I got up very early the next as my friend slept in. The only task assigned to me that morning was to go to the job site and take few measurements every hour. I fired up the El Camino and headed to the Starbucks for some coffee. The gal slinging the coffee began to give strange looks, and as I sipped my coffee, realized that it might have been because I was staring at her ample cleavage. Yee-haw.
I jumped into the Camino and burned out of the parking lot. As I headed up the hill to the job site, I had a strange craving to hear some Lynyrd Skynryd. My wandering thoughts were soon interrupted by the sensation of hot coffee on my lap;they hadn't yet invented cup holders in 1964.
I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon going back and forth doing short burnouts, going fast on some back roads and scaring the shit out of squirrels that were in my way. I wasn't worried about cops, because there weren't that many in this burg and they had their hands full chasing drunken Australians, really drunken dudes with knives and errant bears that kept wandering into restaurants ( all true, I read it in the local paper). " Bears," I thought to myself, " maybe I better get myself a shotgun." Yee-haw.
By the time we were ready to leave, half the town had heard about the commotion that I had been causing. The only people that seemed amused was the myriad of groundskeepers that were employed there. They would all wave at me as I burned rubber and blasted through town. As we stopped for gas I stocked up on beef jerky, BBQ chips and a huge bottle of Mountain Dew. I made another stop at McDonald's halfway back to town and got me some Big Macs. I only slowed down once as we passed an inexplicably alluring trailer park on the outskirts of town . Yaa-hoo.
I was glad to get back home after having spent a few days in such a sterile place but it seemed no different in the city . I was still getting of lot of dirty looks as I observed how easily people will judge you according to the car that you drive. Even though a lot of them are unfamiliar with old El Caminos, they are convinced that it is a redneck car. While stopped at a red light, I was amused to see some yuppie chick in the passenger seat of a BMW as she stared at me. She looked at the car, then looked upwards at my pomp, back to the car and then back up at the hair. I did a mini burnout as the light turned green just to get her more flustered.
The El Camino needed some work so for the next few days so I was given another vehicle to drive around in for the many errands that needed to be done. There, in the parking lot, sat the biggest Dodge Ram 4x4 that I had ever seen. I climbed (literally climbed) into the cab of this behemoth. There was a giant pile of metal in the bed that had to be disposed of at a junkyard.
As I drove around for the next few hours, I realized that I was way more comfortable driving this gigantic truck. People really do get out of your way, and the huge steel guard on the front demonstrates in no uncertain terms that a redneck is coming and you best git outta the way. Our last stop before we hit the junkyard was a liquor store. Not just any liquor store, but the most pretentious one in town where they have wine tastings and obscure $1000 bottles of tequila. I parked right out front in a no parking zone and watched the looks of distaste as the yuppies looked at the huge truck with a big pile of junk in the back.
As we got back to the shop and cracked open a couple Pabst, I toyed with the idea of buying a shotgun rack for the Dodge and thought that a couple of dirt bikes would fit quite nicely in there. I had visions of me jumping dirt bikes off of rickety home-made ramps and possibly smashing into a tree. I was also thinking that maybe we could put the El Camino on blocks and fix it some other time. I fortunately got back to reality as my buddy passed me another beer, and soon made my way home.
When I awoke the next day, I found myself hoping that my friend gets his license back soon, because as much as I like driving a fast car, I just wouldn't look good with a mullet.